Meet Colin Chin, a fuel scientist for Shell Malaysia
While the global oil and gas company has 120 fuel scientists across the world working on fuel innovation and development, Colin is the only Malaysian fuel scientist for Shell.
With over 29 years of experience in the industry, he has done all kinds of fuel research, ranging from petrol and diesel for vehicles, to black heavy fuel oil used for power plants and ships.
As a fuel scientist, Colin is often asked about his lab and where he does his experiments.
I'm a scientist but my lab is actually outdoors with cars, trucks, and power plants.
"I've climbed up chimneys, played with all kinds of engines, walked through an oil gallery of a power plant engine. Once, I even stood on a piston and got lowered into the combustion chamber of an engine. Those are some of the fun things I get to do," shared the 55-year-old fuel scientist.
"A lot of people think it's very easy to measure fuel consumption"
"In principle, you just top up the petrol in your car and calculate how many kilometres you can travel with it. But nobody can test fuel consumption properly in their own cars because there are too many variables, from traffic and weather conditions, to having the right tyre pressure.
"When we do our fuel testing, we do very thorough testing in rigorously controlled conditions. For our recent Shell FuelSave 95 launch, we actually tested the fuel using 250 different cars for 3,000,000km over five years," said Colin.
To help you get the most out of your fuel, we asked Colin to share some fuel-saving tips that actually work:
1. Don't accelerate quickly or brake rapidly
"Every time you accelerate, you'll need to burn a lot of fuel to pick up energy and speed quickly. When you brake, you convert that momentum into heat, wasting all the energy you built up. That's why the main thing is to drive in a consistent manner and keep a steady pace.
"Just like a runner who runs at top speed, you will consume a lot of energy and get tired easily. But if you run at a consistent pace, you can go a lot further," said Colin.
2. Check your tyre pressure
"Make sure that your tyres are properly inflated. This will help you get good mileage. Imagine if you're a runner wearing a pair of loose fitting shoes, it won't let you run very well," shared Colin.
3. Don't go too fast
"If you drive very fast on the highway, you consume a lot of fuel. Let's say you drive 110km/h from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, and 90km/h on the return journey, you'll see straightaway there's a huge difference in fuel savings because of the speed. Higher speed generally causes higher fuel consumption," said Colin.
4. Try avoiding traffic jams
"Fuel consumption in traffic is horrible. If you want the best fuel economy, you should plan your journey as much as possible, so you won't waste fuel stopping and starting, or idling in traffic," shared Colin.
5. Minimise the load in your car
"Sometimes if you check your car boot, you'll notice you have a bag here, a box there, which you don't really need, but you're just lazy to take out. Get rid of these loads, and it will help your fuel consumption," said Colin.
6. Air conditioners take up energy, but you can't do much about it
"Turning off your air conditioning will help save some fuel, but it probably isn't desirable in the Malaysian heat. If you choose to open your window, you'll actually create wind resistance, which will also take up more fuel. So, I don't think you can do much for this," shared Colin.
According to Colin, one of the most common misconceptions people have is that "all fuels are the same"
While Colin explains that the fuel you get at petrol stations in Malaysia all comes from the same source, it's the technology and additives that make each brand's fuel unique.
Petrol is like nasi lemak.
"While plenty of aunties can cook nasi lemak, the best ones are the aunties who keep cooking and have customers that keep coming back. Ultimately, the rice may be the same but the sambal makes the difference.
"It's the same with fuel. Although it originates from the same raw material, it's the brands who have years of innovation, research, and technology that know how to bring out the best in it," shares Colin.
So, is it harmful to interchange between different brands of petrol?
"In the short-term, it won't really affect much. But just imagine that your petrol is like a cup of concentrated orange juice. If you drink half the cup, then fill it with a different brand of orange juice, you will have a dilution effect.
"In the same way, changing between different brands of fuel won't cause harm immediately, but you won't get to enjoy the full benefits of the fuel. Furthermore, deposits can build up in your engine over time, which is why it's important to use high quality fuels to keep your engines smooth and clean," explained Colin.
The all-new Shell FuelSave 95 is designed with DYNAFLEX technology, and gives customers extra kilometres thanks to its friction reducing molecules. With FuelSave 95, it reduces friction by up to 90% in critical engine parts to maximise fuel economy, while keeping the engine clean and free of deposit build-up.
Find out more about Shell FuelSave 95 and the other fuels that Colin has worked on.